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How Does Insomnia Affect The Nervous System

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How Anxiety & Stress Can Affect Our Nerves

Top 10 Best Herbs for Your Nerves (Nervous System Boost)

When the body remains in a state of chronic stress, persistent surges of adrenaline and high cortisol levels can wreak havoc. Adrenaline can damage blood vessels and arteries, raising blood pressure and increasing risk of heart attacks or strokes. High cortisol levels create physical changes that boost the body’s energy stores, indirectly contributing to the buildup of fat tissue and weight gain. Common side effects of stress include:5

  • Muscle tension
  • Mood disorders like anxiety and depression

Try Deep Touch Pressure Therapy

Deep touch pressure therapy, also known as deep touch pressure stimulation, is a cognitive behavioral therapy technique that calms the nervous system through sensory processing . Used correctly, it has the ability to calm your nerves, ease feelings of high stress, and promote an environment perfect for sleeping.

Impact Of Sleep Deprivation On Pns Threat Discrimination

We next sought to determine whether sleep deprivation additionally impaired the PNS discrimination of threat, focusing on changes in stimulus-evoked heart rate accelerations that reliably track affective face discrimination . A condition × emotion discrimination repeated-measures ANOVA of elicited cardiac heart rate acceleration revealed a significant interaction effect . This interaction was further reflected in differences in the cardiac discrimination index, which, as with changes in brain activity, was created by subtracting heart rate responses to nonthreatening faces from those of threatening faces. As predicted, a significant positive cardiac discrimination index was expressed in the sleep-rested condition, reflecting greater acceleration responses to threatening relative to nonthreatening face stimuli. However, no significant cardiac threat discrimination signal was observed in the sleep deprivation condition , representing a blunted autonomic profile of sensitivity. Moreover, this cardiac threat discrimination index was significantly different between the two conditions . Therefore, in addition to disrupted central brain signaling, sleep deprivation further impaired the peripheral, autonomic-mediated, cardiac discrimination of threatening from affiliative social cues.

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Types Of Primary Sleep Disorders

Primary disorders can be divided into parasomnias and dyssomnias.

  • Parasomnia sleep disorders cause abnormal activities during sleep, such as sleep terrors or sleep walking.

  • Dyssomnia sleep disorders cause trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Perhaps the most well known dyssomnia is obstructive sleep apnea.

Other common dyssomnias are listed below.

What Is Sleep Apnea

Health Library to Manage and Reverse Chronic Diseases

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep.

There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common of the two. It is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep. Symptoms of OSA may include snoring, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, restlessness during sleep, gasping for air while sleeping and trouble concentrating.
  • In central sleep apnea , the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to tell the body to breathe. This type is called central apnea because it is related to the function of the central nervous system. People with CSA may gasp for air but mostly report recurrent awakenings during night.

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Hyperarousal And Sleep Reactivity In Insomnia: Current Insights

Accepted for publication 10 April 2018

17 July 2018Volume 2018:10 Pages 193201


Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the US with prevalence rates estimated between 9% and 20% among adults.1,2 Despite advances in pharmacological and behavioral interventions,38 many treated insomniacs relapse9 and those with severe forms of insomnia are resistant to treatment.10 Understanding the course of insomnia is difficult, in part, because its complex psychoneurobiology is not yet fully understood. However, recent advances using hyperarousal and stress dysregulation models of insomnia have offered critical insights into insomnia disease processes.

The concept of hyperarousal as an important etiological factor in insomnia has been long held, with serious scientific inquiry into this conceptualization, as well as the issue of cause and effect, undertaken more than 50 years ago. Several important factors have led to an increasing interest in this broadly defined area of sleep science. One factor is the near exponential rise of sleep science over the last 2 decades . Another contributing factor is the now wide availability and low cost of tools to study aspects of hyperarousal including its physiological, cognitive, and neuronal correlates.

Figure 1 All published articles including keywords sleep and insomnia from 1990 to 2015.

Note: Data were obtained from Ovid-MEDLINE database.

Hyperarousal and stress dysregulation in insomnia

Sleep reactivity

Future directions

Understanding Insomnia From A Neuroscience Perspective

Anand KekreComments

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder and the third most frequent health complaint worldwide pain and headache being the first two.

So far, in the series of posts related to sleep, we covered the importance of sleep, neuroscience brain waves, sleep stages and healthy sleep habits. In this post, we will cover the causes of insomnia from a neuroscience perspective. The next post will be a continuation of this one and will elaborate on why yoga helps alleviate insomnia, yogasanas, sequences, and guidelines.

Insomnia is characterized by having problems either falling asleep or staying asleep. Clinically, insomnia is considered chronic when a person has difficulty sleeping for over 3 months, at least 3 times a week despite the person having the opportunity to sleep enough.

Clinical symptoms of insomnia include high levels of stress hormones, high body metabolism, high brain activity in some centers, elevated heart rate, high body temperature, heightened alertness, high blood pressure, and an overactive Hypothalamus . All of this suggests that the insomniacs have to deal with chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system and malfunctioning of some key parts of the brain and their inter-comminication.

Types of Insomnia

There are two main forms of insomnia primary and secondary.

Causes of Insomnia




Hormonal changes


How Yoga Helps

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Persistent Fevers And Chills

Some people who recover from their acute infection continue to have on-and-off fever, along with chills and body ache. Some people have a high, prolonged fever after the infection is gone, which might contribute to the sense of fatigue. In some instances, people who recover from the initial infection may have temperature dysregulation, in which its difficult for the body to keep a normal temperature.

Sleep Deprivation And Impaired Reciprocity Between Cns And Pns

Effects of Alcohol on the Brain, Animation, Professional version.

Although the central brain and peripheral cardiac systems each independently contribute to emotional processing, strong reciprocal coupling exists between these systems . It is from this embodied reciprocity, in which afferent information from the body feeds back to viscerosensory brain networks, that accurate feeling states are engendered that support the discrimination of emotional signals .

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Major Health Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

Ultimately, the concern of these various physical effects of sleep deprivation is the role it may have in our overall health. Indeed, sleep deprivation may negatively affect our health and may even lead to death in extreme situations.

Moreover, chronic sleep deprivation may adversely impact our metabolism, leading to impaired glucose tolerance and weight gain. In addition, there seems to be some evidence that sleep deprivation undermines our immune function, putting us at risk for frequent illness. There is also some concern that chronic sleep deprivation may contribute to conditions like cancer and even memory problems like dementia.

For all of these reasons, is it is important that we place a premium on our sleep and obtain the amount of rest that our bodies need.

What Are Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are a group of conditions that affect the ability to sleep well on a regular basis. Whether they are caused by a health problem or by too much stress, sleep disorders are becoming increasingly common in the United States.

In fact, more than More than 70 percent of high school students report getting fewer than 8 hours of sleep on weeknights.

Most people occasionally experience sleeping problems due to stress, hectic schedules, and other outside influences. However, when these issues begin to occur on a regular basis and interfere with daily life, they may indicate a sleeping disorder.

Depending on the type of sleep disorder, people may have a difficult time falling asleep and may feel extremely tired throughout the day. The lack of sleep can have a negative impact on energy, mood, concentration, and overall health.

In some cases, sleep disorders can be a symptom of another medical or mental health condition. These sleeping problems may eventually go away once treatment is obtained for the underlying cause.

When sleep disorders arent caused by another condition, treatment normally involves a combination of medical treatments and lifestyle changes.

Its important to receive a diagnosis and treatment right away if you suspect you might have a sleep disorder. When left untreated, the negative effects of sleep disorders can lead to further health consequences.

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Put Your Sleep Problems To Bed

Your mental health suffers when you dont sleep, so ensuring youre set up for a great night of rest is important. Lifestyle changes can help you prepare for sleep and regulate your circadian rhythm and sleep drive, but to help switch your body from go to slow, deep touch pressure stimulation is the research-backed method to try.

Hug Sleep makes it easy for you to get deep-touch pressure therapy every single night and get to catching the zzzs your mental health is asking for.

Important Causes Of Insomnia: Hyperarousal Of The Nervous System Aka Fight Or Flight

Sleep deprivation can be harmful for your health

One of the major causes of insomnia is hyperarousal of the nervous system, yet its rarely discussed and often overlooked. This is probably because most people dont understand what, exactly, this means.

Hyperarousal of the nervous system is really another name for the stress response also known as fight or flight.

But I think it is a more accurate term, because it better describes what is really going on physiologically, especially when this state, supposed to be a temporary thing, becomes more chronic.

Ironic, isnt it? One of the biggest causes of insomnia is a built-in mechanism that is designed to keep you alive and healthy.

This mechanism is the foundation of the survival instinct. Its most basic function is to alert you to imminent danger and give you the strength and speed to either deal with the danger head on or run away from it.

In order for the fight/flight response to work properly, your body is flooded with so-called stress hormones, such as cortisol, norepinephrine, and others, to allow you to respond properly to danger.

So you have a much faster heart rate and respiration, an increase in blood pressure, raised levels of blood sugar and amino acids, and so on, all produced so you can carry out whatever is necessary to protect yourself and your loved ones.

When the danger has passed, your body releases other hormones to help get things back to a normal, everyday state of mind and body tension dissipates and you can enjoy a more peaceful life again.

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Deep Touch Pressure Therapy And Sleep

When you cant sleep, your body is likely running in fight of flight mode. This means your sympathetic nervous system is at the wheel. The SNS is important, and helps you respond quickly to stressful situations. However, it can also cause you to become irritable, stressed, and even angry.

Before sleep can happen, your body needs to switch to its parasympathetic nervous system . The PSNS helps your body rest and digest. If your body is stuck in SNS mode, youll find it difficult to sleep.

Deep touch pressure therapy seeks to help switch your body from SNS to PSNS mode easily and effectively.

What Are The Causes Of Insomnia In Teens

Insomnia has been estimated to affect up to 23.8% of teens. Biological changes push teens toward a later, night owl sleep schedule, but they usually cant sleep as long as they would like in the morning because of school start times.

Teens may be especially susceptible to overscheduling and stress from school, work, and social obligations. Teens also have high rates of using electronic devices in their bedroom. Each of these factors contributes to a high rate of insomnia during adolescence.

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Total Sleep Deprivation Effects On The Brain

Total sleep deprivation is typically classified as going at least one full night without sleep.6 Your ability to complete tasks with speed and accuracy begins to decrease soon after this. Sleep deprivation can affect your short- and long-term memory.7 Some studies suggest that memory is negatively impacted by impaired synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus.

How Does The Immune System Affect Sleep

The Gut-Brain Axis: How Does the Hypothalamus and Gut Work Together?

While sleep plays a critical role in immune function, the immune system also affects sleep in multiple ways.

Infections can trigger various responses from the immune system, including a lack of energy and sleepiness. This is one of the reasons why people who are sick often spend more time in bed and sleeping.

The nature of sleep changes during infection as well, altering how much time is spent in certain sleep stages. Specifically, the immune response induces more time in stage 3 non-rapid eye movement sleep, which is also known as deep sleep. Deep sleep involves greater slowing of bodily processes, allowing the immune system to utilize more energy to fight infection.

Fever is another important immune response. Higher body temperature can trigger new waves of immune defense, and it also makes the body more hostile to many pathogens. Some experts believe that sleep changes induced by infection are designed to facilitate fever and the bodys fight against foreign pathogens.

While researchers continue to study the relationships between sleep and the immune system, these effects demonstrate how closely interlinked they are and how the immune system can harness sleep to improve its ability to fight off infection.

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What Happens When A Person Doesnt Get Enough Sleep

Not getting the proper amount or quality of sleep leads to more than just feeling tired. Sleepiness interferes with cognitive function, which can lead to learning disabilities in children, memory impairment in people of all ages, personality changes and depression.

People who are deprived of sleep experience difficulty making decisions, irritability, have problems with performance, and slower reaction times, placing them at risk for automobile and work-related accidents. Sleep loss can also adversely affect life by contributing to the development of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

How Does Stress Affect Sleep

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder derived from stress. Insomnia is defined as persistent difficulty with sleep onset, maintenance, consolidation, or overall quality. It occurs despite adequate time allotted for sleep on a given night and a comfortable place to sleep, and people with insomnia experience excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability and other impairments when they are awake. Current estimates suggest 10-30% of adults live with insomnia.

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  • Problems or dissatisfaction at work
  • Divorce and other marital or family difficulties
  • The death of a loved one
  • Major illness or injury
  • Crucial life changes

Not everyone develops chronic insomnia due to constant stress, but those with anxiety disorder are at higher risk of experiencing insomnia symptoms. Additionally, changes to ones sleep schedule that occur due to life events or changes can also lead to insomnia. Once chronic insomnia takes hold, people often feel anxious about sleeping and other aspects of their lives. This increases day-to-day stress, which in turn exacerbates insomnia symptoms.

Other daytime impairments related to insomnia that can bring about or contribute to stress include:

If someone experiences insomnia symptoms for fewer than three months, then this condition is referred to as short-term insomnia. Just as chronic stress can precipitate chronic insomnia, acute stressors can bring about short-term insomnia symptoms. These stressors may include:

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Should You Try Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is a healthy choice for just about everyone. Most of us could use more activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. Modern life can often feel busy and chaotic.

Taking a few moments each day to counteract lifes stressors with a deep breath may quickly become one of your favorite daily rituals.

Stay up to date

The information on this website is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this website. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Morning Autonomic Function Test

Acupuncture for nervous system

All participants reported to the sleep laboratory the evening prior to the morning autonomic function test. Participants were only instrumented with wrist actigraphy to minimize discomfort and any unintended experimental sleep loss due to PSG. Participants were provided an 89 hr opportunity for sleep and were woken by study investigators at 7 am for experimental instrumentation . Upon completion of microneurography instrumentation , participants were provided 10 min period of quiet rest. During this time, we obtained brachial BPs for Portapres calibration. Following this short period of rest, a 10 min supine baseline was recorded. After the 10 min supine baseline, the Portapres was recalibrated and we recorded a new 3 min baseline, 2 min cold pressor test, and a 3 min recovery. The cold pressor test consisted of submersion of the participants hand for the full 2 min into an ice bucket . This classic sympathoexcitatory maneuver has been detailed by Victor et al. .

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